Effective Informational Interviewing

August 21, 2014

Tips for Conducting an Effective Informational Interview

Making the change from job to career can be one of the scariest decisions you ever make; often times it is filled with the doubt of making the right choice. The easiest way to calm these fears is to network with current professionals in the industry and develop a relationship with a mentor. By partnering with someone with experience in your chosen industry you gain insight and advice to help achieve a high degree of success.  Here are some tips on how to conduct an effective informational interview.

  1. Conduct your research
  • Identify facilities/interviewees  of interest in your area
  • Network with your family and friends to see who they can introduce you to in your chosen field

Once you have identified the facility you would like to conduct your interview at it is a matter of researching them via their website, social media and Google search to determine their mission statement, core values and achievements. That information can be used to guide the questions you will ask during the interview. In addition to this research it is important to take inventory of your own skills, achievements, and drive for the field to see if they line up with the expectations of professionals in the industry.

After identifying the ideal facility interviewee it is time to schedule a time to meet, the best way to achieve this is by walking in to the office, introducing yourself and asking if they would be able to share their journey with you. Limit the time frame to approximately 15-20 minutes in order to not take advantage of their time.  This is probably the scariest part of the process since the possibility of ‘No’ is very high but for the most part people enjoy talking about their careers and the path they took to achieve them.

Take time to prepare your “elevator pitch” that will explain who you are and why you are interested in the field. In order to get the most out of your interview it is important to lay out a serious of questions that have formed from your research.

Some typical areas that can be covered are:

  • The culture and environment of the facility
  • The ideal set of skills/qualifications
  • The interviewees career path
  • Trends in the industry

The MOST important part of the informational interview is to follow up. Send a thank you letter in the mail within 24 hours- this helps the interviewee feel as though their time wasn’t wasted. They are busy professionals so make sure to extend the proper gratitude for their time and knowledge.

An informational interview is NOT the proper platform to ask for a job offer – that should only come after establishing and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship.

An informational interview can be the first step to helping you become solid in your decision to make a change in your life. Get outside your comfort zone and start networking!